Louise Bourgeois Spiral
In materials as diverse as wood, steel, bronze, latex, marble, plaster, resin, hemp, lead, ink, pencil, crayon, woodcut, watercolor and gouache, Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) investigates every imaginable manifestation of the spiral, from graphic patterns to graphite whorls, wobbly orbits to chiseled vortices, twisted columns to coiling snakes, staircases and pyramids.
The cursive blue-paper word drawings also included, in English and French, complement the purely visual works by conveying the spirit of Bourgeois’ writing in extraordinary pictorial forms. Bourgeois called the spiral “an attempt at controlling the chaos. It has two directions. Where do you place yourself, at the periphery or at the vortex?” In another context, she has also stated “I would dream of my father’s mistress. I would do it in my dreams by wringing her neck. The spiral—I love the spiral—represents control and freedom.”
Born in Paris in 1911, Louise Bourgeois was raised by parents who ran a tapestry restoration business. She met Robert Goldwater, an American art historian, in Paris and they married and moved to New York in 1938. Early on, Bourgeois focused on painting and printmaking, turning to sculpture only in the later 1940s. In 1982, at 70 years old, Bourgeois finally took center stage with a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. She died in New York in 2010, at the age of 98.